By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – For a brief moment it looked like Edson Buddle had succeeded in pulling off an almost fairytale-like return to action for the LA Galaxy. After spending a year in Germany with second division Bundesliga side, FC Ingolstadt, the US international was reacquired by the Galaxy and given the start in the reigning MLS champions’ first home fixture of the season against Real Salt Lake.
After a static first 70 minutes, during which the two sides sparred without one another but were unable to find an opening, Buddle latched onto an arching cross from David Beckham and headed it past Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando to make it 1-0 Galaxy in the 71st minute.
However the dust had barely settled on Buddle’s goal when RSL found an equalizer through an unfortunate own goal that was swept in by Galaxy defender Sean Franklin off a cross from RSL’s Sebastian Velasquez.
“I just didn’t clear it right,” explained Franklin afterwards. “I thought (Fabian) Espindola was coming in so I tried to beat him to the ball and I just happened to catch the wrong side of the ball on that one.”
With the score tied at 1-1 and just under 20 minutes left to play, the Galaxy poured forward in an effort to regain their lead. But it would be RSL who would score the next goal in the 80th minute when Ned Grabavoy played a cross into the area that eventually fell to the feet Javier Morales. The second half substitute struck his close range effort with such force that despite getting a hand to it, Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders was unable to keep the shot out of his net, making it 2-1 RSL.
Four minutes later, with the home side still reeling from the last goal, Salt Lake struck again when Espindola blazed in from the left wing and blasted a shot into the back of the net from the edge of the 18, effectively killing off any realistic hope of an LA fight back.
Moments later, when the final whistle was blown, the 27,000 capacity crowd at the Home Depot Center was faced with something they hadn’t seen all last season: a home defeat. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was quick to accept the blame for his side’s disappointing season opener and laid much of the blame on fatigue following the Galaxy’s come from behind 2-2 tie against Toronto FC in midweek.
“I think we had some good chances tonight,” said Arena. “We were a little unlucky. We coulda been better with some of our chances. I thought we played alright to be honest with you, we just hit the wall and again I think that’s my responsibility.”
The Galaxy will take a day off Sunday before resuming training in the hopes of regaining their excellent form of this season’s ahead of their midweek match against Toronto FC this Wednesday for the second leg of their CONCOCAF Champions League tie.